By Charles D. Collins Jr., Combat Studies Institute (U.S.)
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Several minutes later, the soldiers in camp could hear the sound of intermittent gunfire coming from the bluffs to the north. At first, they dismissed the noise as nothing more than the scouts taking potshots at buffalo. ” The Battle of the Rosebud was on. Major George Randall and his Crow and Shoshone auxiliaries quickly reinforced the thinArmy picket line north of the camp. By 0830, the Sioux and Cheyenne were hotly engaged with Randall’s Indian allies. Heavily outnumbered and supported by only a few Army pickets, the Crow and Shoshone warriors were slowly pushed back toward the camp, but their fighting withdrawal gave Crook time to deploy his forces.
Mills was initially given no mission, but eventually Reynolds had him follow Moore to assist where practical. Approaching the village took much longer than expected because of the rough nature of the terrain and the village happened to be a mile north of its assumed position. Noyes and Egan moved into position and initiated the attack satisfactorily (see map B); however, Moore was not yet in position. Consequently, the Indians were able to flee to the bluffs that commanded a view of the soldiers now occupying the village.
Sheridan’s Campaign Plan By 1876, the frontier Army had accumulated years of experience on the Great American Plains. However, most of the Army’s offensive warfare experience was acquired on the Southern Plains against the Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa. General Sheridan had successfully orchestrated two major campaigns on the southern plains, the Southern Plains War (1868-69) and the Red River War (1874). In the Southern Plains War, Sheridan implemented a bold winter campaign. He recognized that the highly mobile, nomadic Indian tribes were very difficult to catch and reasoned that the winter would weaken the grass-fed Indian ponies making them more susceptible to being caught by theArmy’s grain-fed horses.